Jack Hayes, longtime NRN Southeast bureau chief, dies at 60

Jack Hayes, longtime NRN Southeast bureau chief, dies at 60

ATLANTA —Jack Hayes, the accomplished poet, humanitarian and business journalist who was Nation’s Restaurant News’ Southeast bureau chief for 19 years, died Jan. 26 after an apparent heart attack at his home in suburban Snellville, Ga. He was 60.

Hayes, who earned a reputation among NRN readers and editorial associates for his skills in covering restaurant operations, trends and management matters, was perhaps most admired for his upbeat, compassionate nature and generosity of spirit. —Jack Hayes, the accomplished poet, humanitarian and business journalist who was Nation’s Restaurant News’ Southeast bureau chief for 19 years, died Jan. 26 after an apparent heart attack at his home in suburban Snellville, Ga. He was 60.

Those qualities made Hayes a consummate interviewer and were reflected in such things as his being selected to compile and edit from its inception NRN’s “Community Matters” department page of news about the industry’s charitable initiatives. —Jack Hayes, the accomplished poet, humanitarian and business journalist who was Nation’s Restaurant News’ Southeast bureau chief for 19 years, died Jan. 26 after an apparent heart attack at his home in suburban Snellville, Ga. He was 60.

“He was extremely transparent, an honest reporter, and he always was for the little guy,” said David Davoudpour, chairman and chief executive of Shoney’s, the Nashville, Tenn.-based chain. “His friendship did not change with me from when I started with one restaurant in the ’80s to today, when I have a multimillion-dollar company. He was a reporter you could trust without fail. He told the truth, and I’m sorry that he is gone.” —Jack Hayes, the accomplished poet, humanitarian and business journalist who was Nation’s Restaurant News’ Southeast bureau chief for 19 years, died Jan. 26 after an apparent heart attack at his home in suburban Snellville, Ga. He was 60.

George W. McKerrow Jr., president and chief executive of the Atlanta-based Ted’s Montana Grill chain, said: “I have known Jack Hayes for over 20 years. He was the quintessential friend to the industry, always witty and honest and kind and considerate. He was a great writer and photographer, too. We will all miss him greatly.” —Jack Hayes, the accomplished poet, humanitarian and business journalist who was Nation’s Restaurant News’ Southeast bureau chief for 19 years, died Jan. 26 after an apparent heart attack at his home in suburban Snellville, Ga. He was 60.

Hayes reported on everything from culinary trends in Atlanta to market developments in the Carolinas to hurricane recovery efforts in Florida, but his insightful intellect and flair with words also found a voice in poetry, a talent he had honed since the fourth grade. He gained recognition one year as the unofficial poet laureate of Georgia after winning the Georgia Poetry Circuit prize. He also won the national Rainmaker Prize for poetry and a scholarship to the prestigious Breadloaf Writers Conference at Middlebury College in Vermont. In recent years his poems have been published in the Southern Poetry Review and Atlanta Review. —Jack Hayes, the accomplished poet, humanitarian and business journalist who was Nation’s Restaurant News’ Southeast bureau chief for 19 years, died Jan. 26 after an apparent heart attack at his home in suburban Snellville, Ga. He was 60.

Hayes also expressed his empathetic nature and humanitarianism through extracurricular community endeavors. Even while meeting his NRN deadlines and working his regional business beat, he had returned to school in recent years to earn the master’s degree that enabled him to work several evenings each week with troubled youth as the clinical social worker for the Rockdale County Juvenile Court’s Evening Reporting Center program in Conyers, Ga. —Jack Hayes, the accomplished poet, humanitarian and business journalist who was Nation’s Restaurant News’ Southeast bureau chief for 19 years, died Jan. 26 after an apparent heart attack at his home in suburban Snellville, Ga. He was 60.

“I believe the success of the center is due to Jack,” said Stan Williams, director of the program, which enables judges to sentence juveniles to required reporting sessions instead of incarceration. “Jack was the clinician on site, and he handled all the home visits with the young people for academic and life counseling,” Williams said. “Jack’s the man who did that, in one-on-one sessions with the parents and the kids. He used poetry extensively in teaching life skills, and Jack’s love for that helped bring out the true potential of these kids.” —Jack Hayes, the accomplished poet, humanitarian and business journalist who was Nation’s Restaurant News’ Southeast bureau chief for 19 years, died Jan. 26 after an apparent heart attack at his home in suburban Snellville, Ga. He was 60.

Though Hayes struggled for at least the last decade of his life with complications of diabetes, he was able to balance his professional and artistic pursuits with interests as an amateur naturalist, musician, vocalist and lyricist. In recent years he began studying piano, taking voice lessons and singing tenor in a church choir. In 2002, after writing the libretto to an “avant-garde electroacoustic operetta” titled “Emerald Epiphany,” he and composer Peggy Still copyrighted the work, which was recorded on Aucourant Records. As Hayes described it, the operetta tells of Eve’s healing from the sin of disobedience by “leading women and men from the bliss of ignorance into the uncertainty of knowing themselves, of choosing, of discovering their divinity.” —Jack Hayes, the accomplished poet, humanitarian and business journalist who was Nation’s Restaurant News’ Southeast bureau chief for 19 years, died Jan. 26 after an apparent heart attack at his home in suburban Snellville, Ga. He was 60.

Hayes brought a more lighthearted form of lyricism into the lives of callers to his NRN office phone through his habit of recording a new voicemail greeting each day that vividly described the Atlanta area’s weather and the seasonal flora. The message always ended with the reminder, “And when you eat out today, be sure to leave a big tip.” —Jack Hayes, the accomplished poet, humanitarian and business journalist who was Nation’s Restaurant News’ Southeast bureau chief for 19 years, died Jan. 26 after an apparent heart attack at his home in suburban Snellville, Ga. He was 60.

He was an avid outdoorsman and horticulturist who enjoyed building rock walls in his garden and taking an annual weeklong hike along the Appalachian Trail. He recently got closer to nature by buying a small weekend house in rural Franklin, N.C., in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains near the Georgia border. —Jack Hayes, the accomplished poet, humanitarian and business journalist who was Nation’s Restaurant News’ Southeast bureau chief for 19 years, died Jan. 26 after an apparent heart attack at his home in suburban Snellville, Ga. He was 60.

Restaurateurs admired the many qualities Hayes brought to his news reporting. —Jack Hayes, the accomplished poet, humanitarian and business journalist who was Nation’s Restaurant News’ Southeast bureau chief for 19 years, died Jan. 26 after an apparent heart attack at his home in suburban Snellville, Ga. He was 60.

“Jack was a great guy,” said Pano Karatassos, president of Buckhead Life Restaurant Group, the Atlanta-based operator of 12 upscale-casual restaurants. “I had a lot of respect for him. He loved charity and always tried to help the underprivileged. For sure he wanted to devote himself to that. His articles were always well-thought-out and well-written. He was an intelligent guy for sure.” —Jack Hayes, the accomplished poet, humanitarian and business journalist who was Nation’s Restaurant News’ Southeast bureau chief for 19 years, died Jan. 26 after an apparent heart attack at his home in suburban Snellville, Ga. He was 60.

Ellen Hartman, a veteran executive of the Popeyes chain’s parent company, AFC Enterprises, who now is president of the Atlanta office of Weber Shand-wick Worldwide, remembers Hayes with admiration. “From his joyful answering machine messages to his sweet and thoughtful e-mail closings, Jack made everyone who came in contact with him just a little bit happier,” she said. “He was a strong journalist, with a sensitive and kind soul.” —Jack Hayes, the accomplished poet, humanitarian and business journalist who was Nation’s Restaurant News’ Southeast bureau chief for 19 years, died Jan. 26 after an apparent heart attack at his home in suburban Snellville, Ga. He was 60.

Hayes, who studied English and philosophy at Rutgers University, began his 39-year career in journalism with the weekly Verona-Cedar Grove Times in Verona, N.J. He later was associate editor of Handyman, a national do-it-yourself consumer monthly based in New York. He then was Southeast bureau chief for HFD, a New York-based national retailing journal, and a freelance business writer before joining Nation’s Restaurant News in 1988. —Jack Hayes, the accomplished poet, humanitarian and business journalist who was Nation’s Restaurant News’ Southeast bureau chief for 19 years, died Jan. 26 after an apparent heart attack at his home in suburban Snellville, Ga. He was 60.

“Jack was a journalist who loved to cover the foodservice industry,” said NRN editor Ellen Koteff. “He had great respect for restaurant operators, and he could easily relate to their passions. Judging from the comments that I have heard over the years from readers, the feeling was mutual. He was a compassionate man who will be missed not only for his numerous contributions to the quality of the magazine, but more importantly for the exceptional human being he was.” —Jack Hayes, the accomplished poet, humanitarian and business journalist who was Nation’s Restaurant News’ Southeast bureau chief for 19 years, died Jan. 26 after an apparent heart attack at his home in suburban Snellville, Ga. He was 60.

“Certainly, Jack was impressive with his knowledge of the industry and restaurant operations, and he couldCraft [3]an engaging story, but I think most people will remember him as a big-hearted man who truly cared about people,” said NRN executive editor Robin Lee Allen. “He was so optimistic and interested in everyone he met that it was hard not to connect with him. A conversation with Jack always left people smiling, and we will all miss those conversations terribly.” —Jack Hayes, the accomplished poet, humanitarian and business journalist who was Nation’s Restaurant News’ Southeast bureau chief for 19 years, died Jan. 26 after an apparent heart attack at his home in suburban Snellville, Ga. He was 60.

“He packed a lot of living into his years,” said NRN on-site editor Elissa Elan. “Perhaps he understood what a lot of us are still figuring out: Enjoy every moment and get the most out of it that you can. He sure did that. He had a career he enjoyed, had his family and a loving relationship. He got to work on his poetry and even found time to go off to the mountains, sit back and enjoy nature. I think he did it just right.” —Jack Hayes, the accomplished poet, humanitarian and business journalist who was Nation’s Restaurant News’ Southeast bureau chief for 19 years, died Jan. 26 after an apparent heart attack at his home in suburban Snellville, Ga. He was 60.

Hayes is survived by his companion Kathy Brown; his sons Adam, Aaron and Abe; six grandchildren; a brother, Bill Hayes; and a half-sister, Dorothy Stefanick. Memorial services were being held in Roswell, Ga., and in Franklin, N.C. The family suggested that expressions of respect could be made in the form of donations to the American Diabetes Association or the Rockdale County Juvenile Court Evening Reporting Center, in care of Rockdale Coalition-ERC, P.O. Box 658, Conyers, GA 30012. —Jack Hayes, the accomplished poet, humanitarian and business journalist who was Nation’s Restaurant News’ Southeast bureau chief for 19 years, died Jan. 26 after an apparent heart attack at his home in suburban Snellville, Ga. He was 60.